Ever since the great recession of 2008, finding a job - any job - has become progressively more difficult for everybody, private school teachers and administrators included. One way to get your resume noticed, perhaps even read in detail, is by creating value. Here's how.
Why You Need to Project Value
Private schools have historically valued staff who are well-credentialed, enthusiastic and flexible. The reason why stems from the reality that private schools have only as many staff as they need. No more. What that means is that when there are gaps in the team , for whatever reason, the school needs somebody to fill that gap competently and cheerfully. On the fly.
Indications of Value
Start with your credentials. Make certain that your academic qualifications align with the school's stated requirements as well as offering an additional specialty or two. For example, if you have a Masters in French language and literature and are applying for the school's French teacher position, it won't hurt to be proficient in Spanish or Portuguese or Italian as well. Chinese would be even better. The point is that offering just a little more will give you an edge when the school begins to review the applications in depth.
If it has been several years since you completed your formal graduate studies, be sure to offer some recent courses, workshops and seminars which you have attended. It is important to show your prospective employer that you have not stopped learning. Make sure that there is no expiration on your "Sell By" date.
Experience can be an advantage. But be aware that in these very competitive times your experience could also be a disadvantage. Years ago you could get away with listing your experience in detail much like a timeline or curriculum vita does. Now in our post recession era you need to make absolutely sure that your experience presents as dynamic, organic and relevant. You want the reader to immediately think "We need this applicant".
I am not for a minute marginalizing your experience. If you are over 40, you probably have plenty of experience. All I am suggesting is that you need to present it strategically so that it is relevant. Let me give you an example, and a personal one at that. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University in Classics. But I earned it years ago. If I were looking for a job, I would position that degree as evidence that I know how to think critically and am not afraid of challenges. I would, however, emphasize my web site content creation and blogging skills much more than that first degree. Mentioning that I have created an Android app wouldn't hurt either.
Employers usually will interview the top candidates for their openings. They will receive 100 or more applications. Most of these will have the baseline qualifications for the position. It is all the extras which will earn 5 to 10 of those applicants an interview.
You may have a degree in the subject the school is looking for. But what about your certification as an EMT? Or what about that MCP you earned or the iApps which you have written? Don't bury those valuable pieces of your profile in your resume. Make them obvious. They will make your resume stand out from all the others and get you that interview.
Your interests are an important part of your resume. Yes, you are applying for a specific teaching or administrative position. But the school also needs professionals who can run an extracurricular activity or coach a sport. Review the kind of extracurricular and sports programs which the school offers and emphasize any activities which are a match with your interests. Better yet, list any awards, prizes and trophies which you have one in your activity. An applicant with proven abilities in coaching a sport or managing an activity will get that important second look.
You belong to affinity groups in LinkedIn, don't you? You attend regional conferences which the various state and regional private school associations offer, don't you? You participate in ISED-L and other independent school educator discussion groups, don't you? Having an online presence gets you noticed. That is a good thing.
The stronger your references are, the more value they will create for you. Your references should be your former heads and deans who know you very well. They will be called when you get on the short list. What they say and how they say it will make or break the deal. Networking at conferences and other professional gatherings helps build your sheaf of professional references. But be certain of one thing: your future prospective employer will speak with your past employers. Burn no bridges.
Customize Your Resume
The last point I want to make about creating value in your resume is to make certain that you do not send the same resume to each position for which you are applying. Your resume needs to be customized for each position. One size will not fit all. Yes, it is extra work to create a customized resume but it is absolutely necessary. Each position has specific requirements. Tweak your resume and, of course, your cover letter to emphasize how you are just the applicant they are looking for.
Have a Mentor Review Your Resume
If you have not applied for a position in several years, be aware that you absolutely need the advice a trusted mentor can offer. Even better, hire a professional career coach to review your resume and freshen your interviewing skills. You and I can be our own worst enemies by assuming the others understand how we think, who we are and the value which is inherent in our resume. Wrong. You need the advice of somebody looking in from the outside. You need the help an expert can give by tweaking your resume. You need the confidence which comes from doing a couple of practice interviews before you head out to do the real thing. Here is how a career coach can help.
I interview several candidates a week for account manager positions at the major company where I work. The candidates who are prepared and know what they want are few and far between. Please don't be like them. Your future is at stake. Too much is involved.